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The monthly Swine Budget created by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs provides a guide and format to estimate the cost of production for a swine enterprise. See how you compare. The June Swine Budgets are now posted.

A lot of producers stopped by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs booth at Pork Congress to share their ideas for enrichment toys. Some ideas  included pen of pigs playing with toyblocks of wood, rope, tough dog chews, straw, rubber balls and commercially manufactured toys.  Some producers hung these on chains while others let the pigs root them around in the pen.    All pigs have a need to chew and root. By providing enrichment toys this need is satisfied and tail and ear biting may be reduced.

The need to provide some form of enrichment toys is included in the new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.  What are your pigs playing with?

 

The University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, have jointly developed a free app available from Google Play or Blackberry Marketplace that lets you calculate the level of heat stress experienced by livestock.

 

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2 million under Growing Forward 2 so that farmers and others who work with farm animals can receive training in animal care.

Farm and Food Care will develop training materials, deliver courses and help farmers implement new practices into their operations under the two-year program, which will be offered beginning this September. It will help those who work with farm animals keep up to date with the latest research, standards and practices related to farm animal care.

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OMAF/MRA, with help from Ontario Pork and the Prairie Swine Centre, are organizing group sow housing workshops for early September, at the Festival Inn in Stratford. The workshop will be repeated on two consecutive days, so you have the choice of either September 2nd or September 3rd, from about 9:30 to 4pm. Cost is $50, and includes workshop manual, lunch, and coffee breaks.

The purpose of the workshops is

“To build producers’ awareness and knowledge of the requirements and options for group sow housing. These will be based on the new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs released this past March.”

Pig Code of Practice Cover The Workshops will feature three Ontario producers describing their experiences transitioning to group sow housing systems. Hear their challenges and opportunities and gain practical advice you can apply on your farm.

To discuss the advantages and disadvantages of group sow housing systems, Dr. Jennifer Brown and Dr. Yolande Seddon, both Prairie Swine Centre Group Sow Housing Researchers, will discuss the merits of different systems.

Dr. Kees de Lange, from the University of Guelph, will talk on feeding sows in group housing.

A key objective of the workshop is to stimulate discussion among the presenters and those attending. Everyone’s operation is different, so novel and creative approaches to managing a change in practices is essential for success.

You can register by calling the Clinton OMAF/MRA office at 519-482-3333 or by email to sandra.mccann@ontario.ca.  Space is limited and pre-registration is required by August 26th.  If you would like more information about the workshops, contact Doug Richards at 519-482-3133 or doug.richards@ontario.ca.

hog prices

 

To subscribe to receive the Ontario Market Hog Price Trend Report email John Bancroft.

We may not be quite experiencing a heat wave yet, but there is sure to be hot weather coming. Anyone caring for livestock needs to be prepared for high temperatures.

OMAFRA has produced a free Heat Stress in Livestock and Poultry app for smartphones that can help determine when livestock are at risk of heat stress on the spot, either in the barn or at time of transport.

By entering the current temperature and relative humidity on your smartphone you can estimate heat stress risks quickly and easily. The app also suggests steps to take to reduce heat stress to maintain feed intake and productivity.

appCheck it out here.

The app is useful in assessing a whether a crisis is imminent, but routine maintenance can help avoid risk too. This would be a good time to clean fans, check that louvers and inlets are moving freely, and clean up the sensors and controllers. Ventilation systems need to be working at maximum efficiency and need to be tuned properly to maintain temperature and humidity at acceptable levels. A ventilation system failure can be catastrophic. Even alarm systems can fail so constant vigilance is required when things get hot.

When it it does get really hot outside, ventilation alone can’t provide adequate cooling. When pigs are too hot, they don’t eat. Pigs that don’t eat don’t grow. This is most apparent in heavier pigs nearing market, when the upper preferred temperature of the pig is only around 21C.

There are a few things that can be done to help keep pigs from overheating. Pigs need to lose heat either by contact with a cold surface, or through evaporation of water from their body surface. Since they don’t sweat, that moisture must come from somewhere else. Water sprinklers or drip systems are effective ways of providing relief from heat stress. 1-2 minutes of sprinkling every 20-30 minutes is all that is needed. Time it so that the water is nearly all evaporated before reaching the floor, and so that the ventilation system has time to clear the humidity before the next application.

Adequate drinking water is absolutely critical. Make sure there are enough drinkers for your animals. Go get wet and cool off yourself by thoroughly inspecting every drinker in your barn.

If you can’t make use of the Heat Stress app, this table can be used instead. The intersection of current temperature and humidity indicates the level of stress pigs may be facing, and the level of response that needs to be taken to reduce it (see below for some more options).

 

Signs of heat stress
• Evident discomfort/distress, pigs lying apart, body stretched out
• Manure patterns change, pen floors become wet/dirty, pigs all dirty
• Increased water consumption (up to 6x normal)
• Noticeable decrease in pen activity, slowness and lethargy
• Muscle trembling
• Rapid fall in feed consumption/reduced weight gains, pigs seem to stall out
• Very high respiration rate (panting)

Pigs will try to increase heat dissipation and decrease body heat production. Producers can aid this by making sure that:

• Pigs have unrestricted access to a good supply of clean water
• Timed water sprinkler/mister system triggered by room temperature
• Proper ventilation for the size of room/weight of pig/time of year
• Enough pen space for size of pigs, do not overcrowd (all the pigs can lie down without touching each other and still access feeders/waterers/dunging area without stepping on pen mates)
• Diets can be reformulated in the summer to be more nutrient dense, while ensuring
nutrient needs (amount/day) are still being met.

Transport during any season is also an area the can cause heat stress in pigs and may result in death loss. When possible try to:
• Load animals in groups less than five
• Adjust transport to early morning or at night (summer)
• Load fewer pigs per load on hot, humid days
• Provide wet shavings when temperature is over 15C, do not use straw
• When temperature is over 27C, sprinkle pigs with a course spray of water prior to loading
• Do not pour large amounts over cold water over on an overheated pig as the shock may kill it
• Load and unload promptly to avoid heat buildup
• Death loss due to heat stress is most often attributed to power outages in hog barns when there is no alternate power source or power loss back-up plan. Test your alternate power generation and power outage alarms monthly for fan operated barns
(static pressure barns). Check panic doors/drop curtain releases for natural ventilated barns. Heat build-up non-ventilated barns can cause fatalities in all seasons.

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